colorado-state-capitolWhen the next Colorado General Assembly comes to order in January, budget issues will take center stage. Chief among those issues is the convergence of Medicaid expansion, TABOR, and the hospital provider fee. And the stage was set for this showdown almost four years ago.

As you may recall PeakNation™, 2013 was a bad year for freedom in Colorado.  While Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governorship, they used their narrow majorities to pass ill-conceived legislation such as the renewable energy mandate and gun control laws that ultimately cost the Democrats two state senators via recall.

Also in the 2013 mix was the decision to expand Medicaid. This waved in hundreds of thousands of adults who, prior to the expansion, were enrolled state-sponsored healthcare.  This was one of the most expensive mistakes that Colorado has made in a long time, as today two-and-a-half times more Coloradans signed up for this gravy train than the planners projected.

At first, the federal government was paying the full bill for the new Medicaid patients, but slowly, that federal subsidy is rolling off, and we are stuck holding the bill.

At the same time that the Medicaid expansion liability is ballooning, Coloradans are due to receive a TABOR refund because of revenues collected by the Hospital Provider Fee, which is essentially a tax on medical services provided at hospitals.

This TABOR refund is in the cross hairs of Democrat lawmakers, hungry for additional revenue to feed the rapidly-expanding budget, which will come in at more than $28 billion in 2017 – a staggering increase of more than 50% from just a decade ago.

Democrats have already started their PR campaign in defense of Medicaid expansion with think tanks, lawmakers, and blogs peddling the theme that Medicaid expansion is not hurting the state budget.  They have even gone so far to argue the absurd claim that it is a “boon to the state’s economy.”

It’s time to prioritize our budget instead of growing it unchecked.  Dialing back the 2013 Medicaid expansion and getting these new, able-bodied beneficiaries off taxpayers’ backs is a good place to start.